The EU would be "unwise" to ignore the fact that pro-Brexit parties, including the Conservatives, Labour and Ukip, won around 85% of the popular vote in the UK's general election, a former Tory minister told IBTimes UK on Monday 12 June.

Owen Paterson, the environment secretary under David Cameron between 2012 and 2014, also said Theresa May should stay on as prime minister despite failing to secure a majority at the 8 June vote and seeing two of her top aides quit – Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill.

"It would be most unwise for the Tory Party to launch itself into a leadership contest now and the last thing we want is another election," the North Shropshire MP said.

But could Paterson see May taking the Conservatives into the next election, which is scheduled for 2022?

"Let's just get through the next few months, we've got to get a stable arrangement so we can get a Queen's Speech through, so we can get a Budget through, and then we can start on the Great Reform Bill. The next election I hope is some way down the road," he said.

Paterson, who has also served as Northern Ireland secretary, said there had been a "complete and total exaggeration" around the Tories' alliance talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage unionists.

"All of these moral and personal issues are nearly all devolved and, if they're not, they're subject to a free vote [in the House of Commons]," Paterson argued.

The senior Conservative said he did not know what the DUP had been demanding in the negotiations with the government, but stressed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's associations with Sinn Fein, the republican party, was very much a "live issue" in Northern Ireland.

"It's massively in Northern Ireland's interest to not have Corbyn as prime minister," he said. As for why his party failed to win seats at the election after going into the campaign with double-digit poll leads over Labour, Paterson has called for a "lessons learned" inquiry into the election.

"It's sunny, optimistic campaigners like [former US President] Ronald Reagan that win elections, offering an exciting future," he said.

"Incredibility, Corbyn managed to look optimistic, even though he's wholly lacking credibility on the economy, security, the appalling people he supported in the past, who are all dangerous enemies of the UK, but he managed to come over as more optimistic."

Paterson's comments come just a week before the gruelling two-year-long negotiations between the EU and UK begin, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel urging May to get on with the talks.

"All these excitable people going on the TV better wake up to the fact that [Brexit] has to be delivered," Paterson said. "If it's not delivered, there will be the most terrible damage to integrity to the political establishment."

General Election 2017: results